It might have been a predictable result at Twickenham on Saturday, but I think the majority of fans will be content with the November Internationals from England’s point of view, who were a controversial TMO decision from winning all four matches.
We mustn’t get carried away though, there is still plenty of work to be done. England were very lucky to beat South Africa in the opening test match, were pretty poor against Japan for large swathes of the game and they only really got into gear against Australia after the first half. However Kyle Sinckler was outstanding as was England’s general set-piece, Joe Cokanasiga once again looked menacing and the return of Manu Tuilagi in an England shirt is a sight people have waited a long time to see.
Wales complete 1st ever clean sweep in the Autumn
This autumn will mean an awful lot to the team, the coaches, the fans, just almost every Welshman. Two or three years ago you could almost bank money on Wales being dreadful in the Autumn, their Southern Hemisphere record used to be atrocious, they have taken 10 years to beat the Australians who have never really consistently hit the heights this past decade. A masterful, typical Welsh backrow display from Justin Tipuric and Ellis Jenkins almost singlehandedly beat the Springboks. Wales were ferocious in defence as the Springboks threw everything at them and did enough to hold onto victory even though it cost the excellent Jenkins to a nasty looking injury.
A misfiring Ireland beat the USA in Dublin and it’s fair to say for a significant amount of the game, the men in green were rattled by the US and made a host of errors as well as the fact they had a man sin-binned. However a serious injury to battering ram Joe Taufete’e meant that the Eagles lost their talisman and momentum and Ireland were able to just stride to victory, bringing a clean sweep in the autumn and meaning that they have only lost one game in 2018. This will be a year to remember for Ireland.
Scotland held on to beat Argentina in a scrappy, traditional test-match affair. The only try of the game came through a Sean Maitland score in the second half. The rest of the game was dogged and rife with errors from both sides but Scotland prevailed with Greig Laidlaw knocking over the penalties that proved to be the difference.
The All Blacks thrashed Italy. Well you wouldn’t expect anything less from New Zealand and this would have been the same result regardless of what happened the week before in Dublin. Jordie Barrett was on hand to score 4 tries, while his brother Beauden got one too. Also big lock-forward Patrick Tuipolotu had a great game in his first start in over a year and Damian McKenzie scored his 1st hat-trick in the black jersey. Italy only had a single penalty to their name, and they were just, well, Italy. That’s all I need to say.
Fiji sensationally stunned France in Paris, and this has to be one of the results of the weekend. Despite their inconsistency and recent slump in years gone by, Les Bleus were still huge favourites at home to beat the Pacific nation. It was two of France’s best Top14 players too in Semi Radrada and Josua Tuisova that were central to Fiji’s triumph. A huge victory for the whole nation, well done.
In the Premiership
Worcester clung onto victory against Harlequins to again trouble the Top 6. No one saw that at the beginning of the season. Truth be told however, Quins gifted them that match, missing three kicks at goal and they just haven’t developed that clinical edge yet in the 22 and were very poor at the ruck. More of a Harlequins loss than a Warriors victory, sorry to any Worcester fans reading this but that is the truth, don’t get ahead of yourselves just yet.
Newcastle Falcons finally get their second win of the season over Bath, discipline really being the difference between the two sides in an error-strewn affair. Exeter Chiefs maintained momentum by beating Gloucester at home 22-6, last year’s finalists weren’t setting the world on fire but they successfully deprived the Cherry and Whites of the ball and were clinical enough to win convincingly.
Wasps clung on to beat Bristol at the Ricoh Arena, the home side looked in the clear with several minutes to go but a quick-fire hatrick from replacement hooker Harry Thacker earnt the Bears two losing bonus-points, which they seem to be getting from every game at the moment. Sale also snuck a win over a more-favoured Northampton, discipline once again the winning factor.
Saracens survived a scare and beat Leicester at Welford Road. Tigers were unlucky to not be significantly ahead 20 minutes in with two tries chalked off by the TMO and Saracens pounced quickly, scoring three tries in minutes to race to a 3-21 lead, the Tigers bounced back after halftime scoring two tries through Brendan O’Connor and a try for the ever faithful Matt Smith. But the Tigers failed spectacularly to take more advantage when Sarries were down to 13 men, the two men returned and the defending champions held on for victory.
What happened elsewhere?
In the Pro14, Scarlets convincingly beat Ulster, Leinster went on the rampage versus Ospreys and the Glasgow Warriors smashed Cardiff on Friday. On Saturday, Cheetahs expectedly beat a depleted Benetton in Bloemfontein and on Sunday, Connacht got an important bonus-point score away in Port Elizabeth, Munster walloped Zebre in Italy and the Dragons snuck an important win versus Edinburgh.
And in the French Top14, the notable results were Bordeaux picking up a decent home hammering of Toulon, Castres, Toulouse and Montpellier all edging away victories and La Rochelle beat Stade Français away from home too on Sunday.
Key Talking Points:
– How would you rate England’s autumn?
– How long will it be before Farrell will get punished for his shocking tackle technique?
– Can the US upset things next year in the World Cup?
– What’s happened to Argentina?
– Who will win the Six Nations?